Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"You can see signs of progress"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 22, 2009 @ 12:03 AM


It's been four years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, but it is still near to the helpful hearts and minds of members of the Methodist churches in Franklin and Framingham.

On Sunday, church members reflected on their fifth trip to help rebuild homes in Pearlington, Miss. This time, 18 members, college-age through seniors, and three who now live in Rockville, Md., ventured south, and were happy to find progress is finally being made, said the Rev. Sandra Bonnette-Kim, pastor of the Framingham First United Methodist Church.

"It was both good and bad. It was nice to see some developments: Road constructions were being done and bridges were being fixed. The whole town was getting taken care of," she said.

Read the full article about the local assistance being provided to Katrina victims in Mississippi in the Milford Daily News here

"We're going to cross our fingers and hope this works"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 21, 2009 @ 11:54 PM


A clerical worker in the assessing department and a building inspector will be laid off this year due to the budget crunch, Building Commissioner David Roche and Head Assessor Kevin Doyle reported while presenting their budgets to the Finance Committee last night.

Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting also told the Finance Committee next year's budget funds 10 fewer municipal positions than this year's budget. That does not include schools, and does not necessarily mean all 10 are layoffs, as some may be retirements that won't be filled.

"It's going to be a stretch, but they're going to do the best they can to do business as usual," said Nutting.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Read all the live reporting posts from the same Finance Committee meeting here

Finance Committee 04/21/09

The live reporting summary of the budget hearing by the FINCOM can be found here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Live reporting - final items

Sheet provided to Finance Committee to summarize the differences amongst the State level budgets. This is still very fluid.

Next two budget hearings

April 28th - Tuesday (Planning, Police, Recreation, Fire) (not on cable/web, in training room on 3rd floor)

April 29th - Wednesday (in Council chambers and broadcast via cable/web)

Live reporting - Controller, Legal

Financial services, fixed asset update is done with an outside consultant. It is an annual expense and done at the end of the year.

Up to 2002, the Town used outside council. When Jeff came in, he thought it would be better to have that service in house. Cost avoidance is done by awareness and on-going training. The bylaws and town regulations have been re-written over time to ensure the best legal position.

Mid-to-late 80's this budget line items was quarter million dollars. Effectively, the process of having our lawyer in-house saves us money.

Live reporting - Insurance, Town Council, Town Admin, Finance

Insurance claims
Folks should be aware of the MA General law in this area. If the Town has no prior knowledge of the pothole, the Town has no obligation to pay the claim against it. If they do know of it, and fail to fill it, they are liable for up to $5,000.

Insurance of $315,000 was approved.

Town Council
There is no budget line item for payroll as the Town Council is a total volunteer effort. Contrary to what some folks believe, they Town Council does not get paid for what they do.

Town Administrations
Budget cut on training and travel.

Some items shifted to other departments.

Finance Committee
The one annual training will be held at Tri-County in October. That will save some expenses this time.

Live reporting - Human Resources

"We don't control the pensions at all." - Jeff Nutting

"Once you were more than 20 hours a week, then you are in the pension system." That is a county decision.

"They have a fiduciary responsibility to manage their funding."

Health Insurance
Retired Teachers were moved from the State plan to move it to a local control. They have saved $400,000 from the peak of 1.4 M in FY 07.

"It did have a significant savings. The retirees did have angst but are now a very satisfied group." Stephanie McNeil

"The employees have been excellent in changing co-pays to save premium dollars... It is a constant on-going analysis every year." Nutting

The active plans increased 2% and the retired plans dropped about the same so it was really more of a flat (i.e. no rate increase) budget.

Any change in co-pay is a negotiation item with all 13 unions.

Audited the payroll records in detail to review classifications.
The experience rating (i.e. accidents) and a competitive rate recently bid has produced savings in this area this year.

Driven in good times and bad by the school system. The requirement of new teachers to become certified has created some turnover for those teachers on a regular basis.

There is some exposure in this area as the school budget is not finalized and the number of teachers that may be laid off is not known. We did well last year with the 42 teachers that were laid off about 20 of them got jobs right away.

The employee benefits budget of over $7 million was approved.

Live reporting - Town Clerk, Assessors, Building

The Town Clerk and the elections budgets were approved.

The Assessors budget was approved. There will be a reduction of one clerk in this department. It may affect window service at the Municipal Building but the forms and information generally required is available from the Town website.

The Building Inspectors budget was approved. There is a reduction of one inspector in the FY 10 budget. An inspector brought on and trained during FY 09 is being let go. The approaching risk is that when the economy picks up the permitting process may grow in volume. If the volume increases, there could be risk of not reviewing a permit within 30 days. If the permit was not reviewed within 30 days, it is automatically approved. That is the risk. The contingency is to use the existing employees to cover the permits and take away from window service available hours. At some point an increase in permit volume will require additional staffing to return.

The overall Town budget is down 10 full employees from FY 09 to FY 10.

LIve reporting - Finance Committee 4/21/09

No agenda was published on the Town website for this meeting (at least that I could find).

Full listing of attendees not available due to viewing the meeting via cable.

This is the second of the FY 10 budget hearings.

Book Signing - LeeRoy U Bailey, Jr - 5/2/09

LeeRoy U Bailey, Jr will be at Treesavers Book Outlet on Saturday May 2, to sign his book; A Different Perspective on How to Reach Heaven: You Must Be Born Again.

LeeRoy will be on site at Treesavers from noon to 4:00 PM. For more information you can email LeeRoy at or visit his website here.

Finance Committee Mtg 4/21/09

The review of the FY 2010 budget continues this evening at the Finance Committee meeting at 7:00 PM. The first several department budgets were reviewed last Thursday and reported on here

The specific department budgets being reviewed this evening is not yet published.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"we can only spend what we have"

Milford Daily News
Posted Apr 19, 2009 @ 10:17 PM


After hearing rumors that Franklin was going to lose $448,000 for the past several weeks, town officials say they are happy with the $31 million total state aid Franklin is due to receive.

"We were very surprised we were level-funded. This was a pleasant surprise," said School Committee member Cora Armenio, adding that officials are still on their toes because "it's still not over."

"This is the most frustrating budget season I've ever been in, and it's really no one's fault," Armenio said.

Chapter 70 school aid is "the heart and soul" of Franklin's local aid, said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting, who is president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. The town is expected to get $28.7 million in Chapter 70 school funds.

"Hats off to Rep. (James) Vallee. We dodged a huge bullet - I didn't sleep" Tuesday night, before the House released its budget, Nutting said.

Read this "old news" from last week's Town Council meeting in the Milford Daily News here.

The Town Council meeting was reported live and those notes can be found here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"update the Web site and get the word out immediately"

Posted Apr 19, 2009 @ 12:02 AM

Tuesday morning, when an accident on Interstate 495 delayed rush-hour traffic in Franklin, Gary Premo logged on to Twitter, to write an update. The 540 people following Franklin Police on the social networking Web site knew immediately to take a detour.

"I think it gets information out in real time, especially with accidents. People might be heading into work and will get the 'tweet,' and think, Oh, avoid (Rte.) 140," said Premo, Franklin Police's communications director.

Amid the marketing, news reports, organizing and general ephemera that comes when millions of users write about their sandwiches and trips to the mall are a growing number of public officials who are "tweeting," as updates are known in Twitter parlance, about what they do.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Read a related article by the Boston Globe here

You can learn more about Twitter here

You can sign up for Twitter here

You can follow the Franklin Police here

You can follow me here

Communication and social media

Governor Deval Patrick making the announcement earlier this week about the latest revenue adjustments. This was posted to YouTube. His use of Twitter and YouTube to spread his message is commendable!

Should you use social media to spread your message?

As long as there is a conversation required to sell your services, then there is an opportunity for you. Come to the NewBCamp at Providence College today to start learning about these possibilities.

Can't make it to NewBCamp, then contact me and we can arrange a mutually convenient time to review the possibilities.

Slide Show: Earth Day 2009

These photos summarize some of the activities on Earth Day in Franklin: